Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kidnapper acted in kids' best interests: lawyer

Father seeks two-year sentence at most after abducting children, fleeing to Mexico

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Dominic and Abby Maryk were found in this house in Mexico in 2012 after they were abducted by their father in 2008.

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Dominic and Abby Maryk were found in this house in Mexico in 2012 after they were abducted by their father in 2008.

A much-publicized Manitoba missing-persons case was delayed again Friday following more legal arguments at Kevin Maryk's sentencing hearing.

Provincial court Judge Ted Lismer listened as the defence described Maryk as full of good intentions when he abducted his children in 2008 and how, once he was caught, wasted away in a Mexican prison and was later segregated in a cell in Canada.

"His concern has been for his kids," defence lawyer Todd Bourcier told the court. "He did what he thought was in their best interest."

Dominic Maryk, 13, and Abby Maryk, 11, vanished while on a court-authorized visitation with their father in August 2008.

They weren't located until May 2012 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The children were kept in what the Crown has called "deplorable" conditions, which included having no access to school, medical care or other children.

'His concern has been for his kids. He did what he thought was in their best interest'

-- defence lawyer Todd Bourcier

The children weren't living in an "improper" home, but in a rented house in a gated community with security cameras with bars on the windows -- "to keep people out, not to keep people in," Bourcier said.

"He was trying to raise them properly."

The media and others may have portrayed Maryk as a monster but are wrong about him, Bourcier said, adding his client was worried about the well-being of the children with their mother, he said "He tried to do his best to care for his children," Bourcier argued.

"You should see this as a situation where the father was trying to protect his children and made a horrible mistake... did a horrible thing," said Bourcier.

"Once he got the kids in Mexico, he was stuck."

He was not able to get his children into the public school system, said Bourcier.

"He couldn't afford private schools or a tutor."

Maryk was selling wholesale cleaning supplies and family members were sending him money, said Bourcier.

Crown attorney Debbie Buors argued if Maryk was so well-intentioned, he would have known it was in the best interest of his kids to bring them to Canada.

"This was premeditated -- it was about control," Buors argued. "Mr. Maryk wanted to have his children."

When their mother won custody, he wouldn't accept it regardless of what was best for the children, she said.

"It's not as if the children were prevented from seeing him -- he had access," said Buors.

The Crown is asking for a five-year sentence for Maryk, while Maryk is asking for time served and to return to the community.

The judge has reserved sentencing until Sept. 11.

Bourcier said Maryk has already served 21 months and 21 days in a Canadian prison. Before that, Maryk spent five months in a maximum-security prison in Mexico waiting to come to Canada, Bourcier told the court.

Conditions were tough inside the prison and Maryk appeared to lose weight there, his lawyer said. In court Friday, Maryk appeared hefty, wearing orange prison pants, a white T-shirt and gray pullover.

His lawyer asked the court to give him time-and-a-half credit for the time he's served, and sentence him to between 18 months and two years less a day with a two-year probationary period. Maryk hopes to resume contact with his children in the future, said Bourcier.

He wants the judge to consider the fact Maryk has been serving time in a segregation unit in Headingley, where he's only let out of his cell for half an hour a day. Bourcier said Maryk is not being held in general population because of other charges he's facing that can't be reported because of a publication ban.

Buors disagreed. She read a letter from a Headingley Correctional Centre staff member saying the placement in the segregation unit was at Mr. Maryk's request.

"This was not a situation where this was imposed on him," Buors told the court.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2014 B3

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